On Guillen Crisis, Marlins Speak to Latinos Differently on Twitter

ozzie-guillen-marlinsThe Miami Marlins have been transparent in their aim to woo Latino fans to their new ballpark. Now that the team is in crisis management mode following controversial comments made by its field manager, the differences in its approach to communicating on Twitter with Spanish speaking fans is evident in more than language.

Ozzie Guillen (left), the Major League Baseball team’s manager, was temporarily suspended today for inflammatory comments he made suggesting praise for Cuba’s Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader many Miami residents of Cuban descent believe to be a ruthless and oppressive dictator. The comments have caused an uproar among the team’s target audience in Miami, some of whom have protested outside the new stadium, according to the Miami Herald.

Like other MLB teams using the “Los” prefix to reach out to Hispanic fans, Marlins have an @LosMarlins account on Twitter. And the ball club is using that Spanish language presence, which has far fewer Twitter followers, to address the Guillen situation in some contrast to what’s happening on its English language @Marlins account.

This is the longtime baseball manager’s first season with the team, which brought Guillen – a Venezuelan – on board in part because of its mission to appeal to Miami’s Hispanic community. Former New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, a Dominican, was also picked up by the team as part of that effort.

At around 11:30 a.m., the Marlins acknowledged Guillen’s comments, and the “pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro” on both the English and Spanish Twitter feeds, making note of a press conference to be held soon thereafter with Guillen.

About an hour and a half went by following the press conference on @Marlins before the team posted quotes in English from Guillen’s press conference. Several quotes in Spanish appeared at @LosMarlins as the press conference occurred, or soon thereafter. The @Marlins account has around 36,000 followers compared to the @LosMarlins 1,700.

Before posting the translated apologetic quotes on @Marlins, the team took a time-out to tout in English the fact that “Jose Reyes is the only Marlin who has hit safely in all 5 games this season,” and that “The Marlins have already stolen 7 bases through 5 games.”

The team’s Spanish feed highlighted different quotes from Guillen than the English feed. “‘I apologize with my heart in my hands…to the Cubans and Latinos,'” posted @LosMarlins. That line doesn’t appear in the posts translated into English on @Marlins.

On Facebook, neither the official Marlins page nor the official Marlins Beisbol page posted quotes at all.

Several quotes appear in English that aren’t posted to the Spanish account, including one in which Guillen states, “I prefer to die than to vote for [Hugo] Chavez,” referencing Venezuela’s president, a close Castro confidante also accused of oppressing his people.

Marlins National League East division opponents The New York Mets – another team that’s made an effort to reach out to the Hispanic market – also takes a special approach to its @LosMets account. A post today en Espanol mentioned the team’s Panamanian shortstop, Ruben Tejada, suggesting that fans “tweet with your question” for Tejada, “and use #DimeloRuben.” Translation: “Tell Me Ruben.”

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